It has recently been shown that the consistency of food significantly affects levels of bone strain in the mandible during mastication (Hylander, '79a). Mandibular bone histology was examined to test the effects of a diet of hard food compared to a diet of soft food in two group of monkeys. One group of rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) was fed a diet of commercially prepared hard biscuits. The second group was fed a soft diet the consistency of fudge. Both diets were nutritionally adequate for normal growth and development. As a control for other factors influencing cortical bone structure, fibular morphology was also examined. At the end of the test period, mandibular and fibular tissue samples from the two groups were prepared to determine the amount of secondary Haversian bone present. Mandibular depth at M2 and fibular anteroposterior diameter were also measured and compared between the two dietary groups.

The soft-diet monkeys showed low levels of remodeling in their mandibles. There were large patches of unremodeled bone and resorption spaces were common. The hard-diet monkeys exhibited more extensive evidence of secondary Haversian remodeling in their mandibles. The hard-diet monkeys also had deeper mandibles. In contrast, the fibulae from the two groups had similar mean diameters and showed comparable levels of secondary remodeling. We infer that the higher mandibular bone remodeling levels in the hard-diet monkeys represent an adaptive response to remove and replace fatigued mandibular bone due to higher stress levels associated with the ingestion and mastication of hard foods. We also infer that greater depth of the mandible at M2 found in the harddiet group represents an adaptive response to higher stress levels associated with the ingestion and mastication of hard foods.